Kentish Express Ashford & District
It’s time to love your eyes
Hike goes ahead despite councillors’ concerns
When was the last time you had your eyes tested? Don’t wait for your eyes to deteriorate before you book an appointment. Eye conditions and other health problems can be detected in the early stages through regular eye tests. Kent Association for the Blind is urging you to show your eyes some love and book an eye test when it’s safe to do so and at least every two years.
Lily was just 6 when a routine eye test led to the discovery of a tumour in her brain. Her Mum explains how one test changed her life. “When the Optician referred Lily to the hospital for further checks, we didn’t realise how serious the situation was. The MRI picked up the brain tumour and she was operated on a few days later. The tumour had been there from birth, pushing on her optic nerve, and her sight was deteriorating. I can’t think about what could have happened if we hadn’t got her eyes tested.”
Households will pay an extra 7.4% on the police portion of council tax bills from April after contentious proposals were approved.
Kent Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott said the 1.8 million people living in the county would receive a “good deal” from the force during the next financial year.
The money generated will cover a range of growing financial pressures, including the pandemic, the Napier Barracks in Folkestone, IT projects, new equipment and pay rises.
Under this, a £6m pressure exists from staff delaying their retirement to continue to serve amid the Covid-19 emergency. On average, 25 people typically retire from the force every month, but only nine did in December.
Defending the hikes, Mr Scott told a panel of councillors last Thursday: “I do not do this because I like putting people’s council tax up. I do it because I think it is necessary to provide the first-class service people want to see.”
However, some members raised concerns about the “value for money” as the annual bill proposals were reluctantly given the nod by 13 out of 16 councillors during a heated meeting of the Kent and Medway Police and Crime Panel.
In December, Policing Minister Kit Malthouse empowered police and crime commissioners to be “flexible” in establishing their tax bill, with the maximum limit set at 7.4% for April 2021 to April 2022.
The highest increase would generate an extra £288m across England, but commissioners would be “locally accountable” for the move.
From April, a Band D home in Kent and Medway will be expected to pay £218 towards policing in their annual tax bill, an increase of £15.
The police precept makes up around 10% of the total annual council tax bill including the fire service, district council, Kent County Council or Medway.
Concerned over the hike, Gravesham council leader John Burden (Lab), who voted against the proposal, said: “Kent Police are a very good force, but this does not represent good value for money.”
He added: “A lot of the increased costs the force are facing, managing the Brexit process and immigration numbers, remain a national issue and should be paid for by the government.” He said it was “unreasonable” to ask Kent and Medway residents to keep paying for such matters.
Dartford council cabinet member, Cllr Richard Wells (Con), who supported the move, said: “I understand we have an outstanding police force in Kent.
“But there are areas in Dartford where the residents do not necessarily share that view and want to see more from the police and want more from them.”
Kent Police hopes around 145 new officers will have joined its ranks by March 2022 in a £10m package, paid for by the Home Office.
It will mean the county has the highest number of bobbies in its history, a total of 3,970 officers.
Defending the tax hike, Mr Scott said: “Any money left over will go back into resourcing front-line policing to recruit more officers and staff.”
Commenting after the meeting, Mr Scott added: “Whilst it gives me no pleasure raising council tax, I believe this is good value for money for the people of Kent.
“We are reducing crime, bringing anti-social behaviour down and supporting victims of crime. We are making Kent safer.
“We have more police in Kent now than ever before and they are making a difference.
“Their work has continued through the challenges of the pandemic and they are doing an excellent job”.
Do you think the police force here in Kent and Medway offer value for money? Email your views to letters@thekmgroup. co.uk
You’ll have the best of both worlds if you snap up one of the last two remaining properties at a bijou new development in Cranbrook. Greycoats Place is within walking distance of the town centre while also backing onto open countryside.
So whether you want the bustle of a sought-after market town, or the peace that comes with rural living, the development of seven three, four and five-bedroom homes has it.
The first residents have moved in and if you want to join them, there is the four-bedroom Bathurst House on Plot 1 with its large garden, modern appliances and under floor heating still available. The five-bedroom Stringer House at Plot 7, which is also still on the market, has an open plan kitchen/ diner as well as a separate study – ideal for working from home or home schooling.
Both properties come with a utility room and either garages or double parking bays as well as fully landscaped front and back gardens with patio areas.
The homes have been built by family builders the Jarvis family, who can trace their building heritage back to 1649, making them one of the oldest known house-building families in the country.
David Sercombe of Savills said: “Greycoats Place has been finished to an exceptional standard with high level specifications that include Krieder bespoke luxury kitchens with painted solid wood doors, quartz worktops and Siemens appliances.”
The homes have been built using the traditional block and brick construction along with traditional features including open eaves, tile hung or timber clad facades, Sussex fencing, and, in some cases, wood burners and are in the catchment area for Cranbrook School.
Savills is operating virtual viewings at Greycoats Place. To book one, contact Savills Cranbrook on 01580 721005.